Memorial Day is fast upon us. It is a day to honor those who have fought for our country, and to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom and independence.
We celebrate with parades, parties, family gatherings and speed. Lotsa speed. Memorial Day weekends hosts more motor sports events than any other day. This year, the grandaddy of them all, the largest one-day sporting event in the world, will celebrate it’s 100th Running.
Full disclosure: I have always been and always will be, a huge fan of the Indy 500. And so is Sunny Moon. His favorite driver is Mario Andretti. And so is mine. The difference is, he’s actually been to the race. In fact, he’s not only been in the stands for several runnings of the 500 mile classic, he’s also performed at the track.
I was introduced to Sunny by Jim Cerone, who many of you know as a regular presenter at MBLV and other events and who also operates “The Perfect Host” in Fishers, Indiana. With the centennial running of the 500 coming up, I got to thinking about what it might be like to be a DJ at the track on race day. While that could be a pretty cool gig, The 500 is really a month long event. So, as Sunny explained, most of the DJ jobs are in conjunction with various supporting events leading up to the call to “Start Your Engines.”
Up until just a few years ago, Sunny had the annual honor of being one of three DJs who set-up at the track to welcome the runners of the OneAmericaMiniMarathon, (#Indymini) which takes place the first week in May and leads off the month long 500 festival. Starting in downtown Indianapolis, runners snake their way out to the track, run a lap and then complete the 13.1 mile circuit back at Military Park.
“For the runners, the race track was like being out in the middle of the Mojave Desert”, explains Sunny, “They hired three of us to pump out music on the track from three locations. I had the pleasure of playing music right the ‘yard of bricks’ where the runners would end the race by kissing the bricks. The best thing about this gig was that I plugged my small console into what has been claimed to be the world’s largest sound system at IMS. That was just after they upgraded the speakers to QSC. We used the house system to keep the runners on pace with some up beat tunes and my powered JBL EONS for the main straight away for shouting out to as many runners as possible via their number off a laptop. It got a little crazy as 25,000 + people ran by!”
That was back when the marathon actually ended at the track—and when runners pinned the numbers to their clothing. Unfortunately, some of the runners were a bit careless about where they tossed the pins after the event, with some being found during the running of the 500 by cars traveling at 200+ MPH.
All told, Sunny played for various events at the track for over 25 years. He’s now 68 and has no plans to quit. One of his recent jobs trackside was performing at the Dallara Indycar Factory. (http://www.indycarfactory.com/). This relatively new facility is not only where the carbon fiber bodies of the racers are constructed, but is an attraction in itself with event space, racing simulators and cars on display.
It is at corporate events, like those held at the DIF and at the track prior to race day where Sunny has had the opportunity to rub elbows with many of the sport’s greatest drivers. As Sunny recalls, “Indycar learned from NASCAR that the drivers are just as important to the public as the race. When I first started doing corporates at the track, I would seldom see anyone involved in the actual race, but as time went on, more and more of the sponsors began requesting that the team send over a car and driver.”
In it’s 100 years, the Indy 500 has experienced the heights of emotion—from nail biting finishes to agonizing tragedies. That is what make it the greatest spectacle in racing. For several years, attendance figures were effected negatively by politics within the sanctioning bodies. Fortunately, that’s all in the past as it was recently announced that this year’s event is sold out. For Sunny Moon, and the other Indianapolis based DJ who have had the covetous experience of being part of the festivities, it takes a fantastic way to earn a living to an even higher level. I, for one, am quite envious.
If you are, or know of, a DJ who has played the 500 or other big-time sporting event, drop me a line – firstname.lastname@example.org
Filed Under: Events, Performing, Profiles, Robert Lindquist
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